>> My first port of call when it comes to Graduate Fashion Week isn’t necessarily the fashion design students. It’s the University of Salford course of image making and styling headed up by Christine Ratcliffe. The photography that emerges from this progressive course can hold its own up there with images in style titles and mainstream publications, so much so that for the past two years, they’ve branched out from their stand at Graduate Fashion Week to exhibit in the nearby Herrick Gallery. If you had wandered in on the night, you would not have thought these images came from barely graduated 21 year old BA students. Then again, it’s their youth and energy that contributes to these images that express the things that somehow affect you deeper at that age – isolation, not fitting in, confronting sexuality, feeling both wanted and unwanted. All of those elements bristle in bedrooms and bucolic landscapes and are captured with a grounded sense of reality.
A quick glance through the Tumblrs and the collective course blog Uossaim and you might be thinking that you have seen this all before and that the root of all that film-derived grain and lo-fi styling of course leads back to Corinne Day or Nan Goldin. But truth isn’t a trend. It resonates no matter what generation of photography, and matters whether it’s a picture of a boy in a Man United shirt or a girl sitting on a hay bale obscured by her hair. Ratcliffe seems to have a knack of coaxing layers and nuance out of her students and the result is a group of young photographers and stylists, who go beyond fashion’s framework. It’s how a fashion image can go deep without losing out on aesthetics. Long live Uossaim!
“To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s mortality, vulnerability, mutability. precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” Susan Sontag, On Photography